Genes of Intelligence

Genes of Intelligence

Genes of Intelligence

What is intelligence?

What is Intelligence? And what role do our genes influence intelligence? Albert Einstein once said that “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. A universal definition of intelligence is hotly debated because of its complexity, and number of definitions. To keep things simple, we will give you the definition of intelligence according to Wikipedia:

The capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, and problem solving. It can be more generally described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviours within an environment or context.

Have you ever wondered what role our genetics plays in intelligence?

The common narrative on how intelligence arises in humans is a combination between nature and nurture. Our intelligence comes from both our DNA and how our DNA interacts with our environment. Better genes will give you more intelligence, and a better environment will also give you more intelligence.

What are the genes responsible for intelligence? And how many are there?

A new study looked at over 250,000 human genomes in search of genes playing a role in intelligence. (1) Scientists found 205 genomic loci (190 new) and 1,016 genes (939 new) to be influencing intelligence. The study points to further insight into mental health disorders, the neurobiology of cognition, and the development of a greater understanding of general intelligence.

Researchers found that higher intelligence protects against schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease. But, higher intelligence increases the risk of autism. Therefore, there seems to be some type of trade off occurring between intelligence and other neurological or biological functions.

What specific genes are responsible for intelligence?

Researchers did not go into detail about which specific genes are playing a role in intelligence because they found so many news genes playing a role in intelligence. However, researchers did note that the SLC39A8 (rs13107325) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) to have the strongest correlation with higher intelligence scores.


  1. Savage, J. E., Jansen, P. R., Stringer, S., Watanabe, K., Bryois, J., de Leeuw, C. A., ... & Grasby, K. L. (2018). Genome-wide association meta-analysis in 269,867 individuals identifies new genetic and functional links to intelligence. Nature genetics, 50(7), 912.